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NERC explains condition for purchase of transformers, meters, others by electricity consumers

The National Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has explained the condition under which electricity consumers can purchase transformers, meters, poles or any other assets for the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

The power sector regulator said that the consumer has to sign an agreement with the DisCos stating when and how the consumer will be refunded the cost of the transformer or the purchased asset.

This was made known in Abuja by NERC’s Commissioner, Consumer Affairs, Aisha Mahmud, at the 3-day NERC/Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Customer Complaint Resolution Meeting, where she insisted that it was not the responsibility of electricity consumers to buy transformers or any other assets for DisCos.

Mahmud said that the agreement should contain dispute resolution clause and all other items that are expected of a standard agreement.

NERC makes provision under its ‘Investment Regulation’

Mahmud stated, “It is not the responsibility of the consumers to buy meters, poles or any assets for the DisCos because we have already provided for that in the tariff of the utilities.

“But under any circumstances that you have to purchase these item and you cannot wait for the DisCos to make that investment, we  have made provision for that under our “Investment Regulation.’’

She said that the commission came up with a regulation called investment in the network and based on that, if a customer has to purchase a transformer, it has to be done through an agreement.

DisCos claim consumer’s investment as donations due to lack of agreement

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The NERC Commissioner noted, “The agreement should contain dispute resolution clause and all other items that are expected of a standard agreement.

“What we expect from the DisCo is to use their Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to buy those assets or rather use shareholders’ investment or borrow from the banks to purchase those assets

“ In the event that they are not able to buy those assets, customers can come in and they have to be refunded.

“So what the consumers don’t know is that  regulation exists and they go about making all sorts of investment which DisCos say is a donation to them because there is no agreement.’’

NERC to enlighten consumers on their rights, obligations

The commissioner said that it was part of NERC’s responsibility to also educate customers on their right and obligation and all they are supposed to know about the electricity market.

She said the commission realised that most consumers in Nigeria did not know about the existence of the regulator, ‘’They don’t know their right, they have a lot of rights that they are not aware of.

“It was our duty to tell them that it is their right to get a meter as Discos are not doing you any favour to issue you a meter.’’

Mahmud said  that NERC’s mandate was  also to educate the consumers on their responsibilities such as the issue of meter, bypass or tempering with meters.

She said, “They should know that the Discos are just merely collection agents and the revenue they collect is not entirely their own as they have to pay gas suppliers.

“Pay the Transmission Company (TCN) and the generation companies  so customers  should know that once they touch the utilities they are also sub charging themselves.’

For the records

  • The power sector regulator, NERC, had always maintained in its earlier policy statements that electricity consumers are not required to pay directly for meters issued to them under the National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).
  • While it stated that it is the responsibility of the DisCos, NERC, however, noted that consumers may elect to acquire a meter from the Meter Asset Programme (MAP).
  • NERC pointed out that the regulatory framework approved by the commission under MAP/NMMP Regulation provide for refund of cost of meter through energy credits to the customer at the time of supply of electricity.

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